Vista CAPABLE: What does this tell us about software companies?

I know that Windows Vista has been out for a while, and this post isn’t really about Vista. It’s more about what the lawsuit (see link below) over “Vista Capable” and “Vista Ready” stickers really implies. I think–realistically–that most people who read the documentation on what “Vista Capable” meant will know that this sticker meant basically NOTHING. The vendor (and Microsoft) basically said that if you purchased a PC with the configuration of the machine you were looking at, you’d have enough machine to at least run Vista. And, if you read the article, the end user did get Vista to run. She just didn’t get all the various bells and whistles that were available for Vista.
Now realistically, if’ you’d been following the system requirements for Vista, you had a pretty good idea that you needed a machine that was substantially more powerful than your good old XP machine to have a good chance at the more advanced features of Vista. But how does the average consumer know that? That’s what the lawsuit is about. Turns out the Dianne Kelley bought a system that wouldn’t give her all the bells and whistles that she needed to get the most from Vista. And she sued. Outcome? Of course, not yet.
But here’s the lesson: software vendors often bury the real information you need to make an informed decision deep in the fine print. It’s hard to make a good decision with the information you have (at least until you own the product) because it’s almost impossible (unless you’ve been through it before) to evaluate your needs and the software requirements. The general feeling seems to be (I’m not accusing anyone here, let alone trying to single out Microsoft–all software vendors are equally guilty): “Get the end user involved, then they’ll buy what they need to get really good performance out of the system.”
And, having said that, I should also say that there are times when the problem is the end user’s expectation. That is, there are unreasonable demands and expectations from the user. But let me ask you this: who set the user expectations? I’ve been in too many presentations when questions were asked or statements were made that–to be generous–stretched the capabilities of the software. The vendor hedged, or remained silent.
“This software will revolutionize my business! I won’t have to do anything!” says the business person.
Software vendor: silence.
But here’s the truth: what’s reasonable is reasonable. What seems easy to do often isn’t. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Just don’t tell any of the software companies I work with that I said that. I’ll deny it.
Windows Vista Capable Lawsuit Continues